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The spiritual dimension of business ethics


Thanks to Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai (University of Budapest), who did the tremendous job of selecting and editing the 18 high quality papers, I received my personal copy of this highly recommendable publication.

The book refers to our 3 day encounter in September 2012 in Visegrad, Hungary where each of the papers and many more were presented. I reported about the extraordinary encounter through this same blog “why everyone avoids spirituality” .Why everyone avoid spirituality

Today, at the time of appearance of this book, we are 2 years further in time. The venture described through my paper in the book is now extending into varios cities across the Netherlands and will also be deployed throughout Europe. Other Sustainocratic ventures were born and grow equivalently proving the spiritual and scientific significance of this international publication, the first of its kind.

My open invitation to Pope Francis

Download the letter here:  PopeFrancisinvite



Eindhoven: May 21st, 2014

Your (W)Holiness Pope Francis,

There are various imperative reasons for me to address you personally, inviting you, together with the infrastructure and members of the Catholic Church, to take responsibility with me, using “Sustainocracy and the STIR loop”, to address the global humanitarian issues of our mutual concern (poverty, pollution, migrations, climate changes, human made and natural disasters, etc).

This letter introduces my peaceful yet powerfully logical approach, developed after many experimental practical steps, with strong spiritual enlightenment and guidance. It has now reached enough proven results and precedents to be able to expand across the world. This I cannot do alone, it would take too long. The Catholic Church is one of the few organizations that has all the instruments readily available for rapid and correct positioning of this transformative solution into the world. Here I explain why, how I envisage the process, with what precedents. In no circumstances political or economic standpoints will be taken, just humanitarian with sustainable human progress.

Recognizing the real problem
We both agree, in view of your acceptance of the position Holy Father as Jesuit and public appearances since then, that the current human system’s complexity, based on taxable consumer economics, produce consequences that need to be addressed urgently with sense of awareness and responsibility. We do not only cause poverty and migrations of desperate people, we also damage our environment to such an extent that the problems grow exponentially through human and natural catastrophes. We can attribute large part of the problems to the reigning political and economic systems with related human cultures. These systems, no matter how small or large, are complexly interrelated in a network of fragmented pieces of institutionalized self interest.

It are not just the parts of this puzzle that cause the problems, it is the complex way that all the parts interact together.

Acceptance of a humanitarian problem is not enough
Most political and social structures in the world accept the global issues as something that needs to be solved but find that their support is minimized by defending other priorities. The economic system’s reality sees the consequences as costs rather than humanitarian pain. It searches economic growth to address its consequences at the expense of making things worse. Political and economic leaders depend on this culture to obtain and sustain their position of authority. Their task is to provide for fragmented system growth, not for the holistic sustainable progress. Within the system they can feel solidarity with the complexity problem but cannot feel accountable for the solution as they only cover a minor part. The priorities of their functions are simply different, not interconnected in humanitarian responsibilities, just material ones.

Introducing Sustainocracy
“Sustainocracy” determines, based on historical evidence, that a society does not prosper in stability and wellness through speculative growth and competition. Instead it requires keeping harmonic stability in the following 5 collective local values:

  • human health,
  • safety,
  • food (including drinking water),
  • self awareness and
  • self sufficiency.

When these values are not co-created and accounted for, the community becomes vulnerable, resulting always into dramatic periods of chaos, war and collapse. Preceding collapse there is always a rise of poverty, criminality, large differences in wealth development, growing bureaucracy, etc. On a local and global level all signs are alarming.

The Sustainocratic values should always be placed above economic and political interests, becoming a practical and democratic guidance for sustainable human progress. Considering this we can determine that the entire global human community is dangerously vulnerable and the system’s complexity only builds up the tension further until it collapses. In practical reality we can state that the current system’s complexity of consumer economics and financing of consequences through economic growth is the kernel of the problem. If we want to develop a stable, safe and progressive global community we need to redefine the system’s complexity and take transformative initiatives between one system and the other. This is a delicate problem that requires leadership, determination and transformative steps that allows for a peaceful transition without a global collapse, involving current system leaders, not excluding them.

Sustainocracy is a new system’s complexity, the STIR Loop the transformative means
Sustainable human progress is defined as: “to continuously work together to cocreate a healthy, safe, vital, self aware and self sufficient human community within the ever changing complexity of our natural surroundings.” When we put these natural humanitarian objectives upfront our democratic processes we get a new way of addressing our choices and priorities. This is then referred to as Sustainocracy (Sustainable human progress + Democracy).

Sustainocracy is then a choice, an understanding, just like any other paradigm. It does however offer better co-creative perspectives to solve global issues on a local basis than other paradigms, such as the one based on taxable consumer economics. Everybody, individually as self aware human being or as professional in a position of authority, can be invited to take responsibility and contribute to Sustainocracy through personal commitment. In fact, both paradigms can be positioned in parallel to each other to solve the most important humanitarian priorities first. In Holland we started with air quality. On islands such as Japan, Taiwan, Madagascar or the UK, we suggested to work on self-sufficiency in view of the vulnerability of millions of people after peak-oil. Coastal areas, with millions of people living in cities, need to address safety as a consequences of climate change and rising sea levels. Food and drinking water are issues for everyone, as well as new educational systems to prepare our current and next generations for their own primary humanitarian responsibilities. To do so we need to disentangle the financial dependence of transactions, debt and manipulation from the value driven responsibilities of local sustainable progress.

Initiating the STIR Loop
We distinguish now two different realities or paradigms: the local economic and political system’s reality and the choice to co-create Sustainocracy based on spiritual awareness and natural values. I have drawn these two realities as triangles among which there is a field of human made tension that can develop into sustainable progress or chaos and collapse:

Bridging two paradigms for the sake of humanitarian sustainable progress

Bridging two paradigms for the sake of humanitarian sustainable progress

Two system’s in tension produce a choice through awareness

When presenting Sustainocracy as a functional alternative for co-creating humanitarian values in a new system’s complexity, anyone can be asked to participate and take responsibility. When a local humanitarian problem grows sufficiently out of hand to unstabilize the economic and political reality of a region then even the people in charge are willing to use and connect their authority to make a difference out of self interest.

Instead of addressing the consequences (s.a. air pollution, poverty, migrations, rising sea levels, etc) with financial means we invite all the affected to take responsibility for the real humanitarian needs (health, food, safety, etc) together with effort and talent. We always need to involve the 4 cornerstones of regional development to interact together:

  • The local population itself (behavior)
  • The local governance (infrastructure)
  • Business (creativity)
  • Science (knowledge)

These are used to interact in an economy of transactional exchange and hierarchies. Accepting the invitation to the table of Sustainocratic co-creation they also accept the different rules within the paradigm. In the next picture we see AiREAS, the first real Sustainocratic venture created in Eindhoven (Netherlands) in 2010 to address human health in relation to air pollution. In the picture we see all authorities that have taken responsibility together with the city as “living lab”. In 2014 the same group decided to expand the Sustainocratic method throughout Europe to experiment with cultural differences in co-creation based on equality.

Top down and bottom in one process

Top down and bottom in one process

One of the key problems that participants face in the Sustainocratic venture is the acceptance of the working of the value driven paradigm of co-creative responsibility rather that the costly and destructive paradigm of economic transactions and relationships. In reality they experience the very first half of the STIR Loop as pictured in figure 1, with a strong spiritual impact. Values are created that need support from the old paradigm. It takes a lot of personal leadership to go back into the old system’s reality and produce the required modifications that make the loop function optimally. Each of the participating partners acts fully out of fragmented self interest. The reciprocity (reward) is however measured in the contribution to the local sustainable human progress. This has obvious economic and political values too.

The other problem we face is that none of the four pillars can be the inviting party, simply because of the hierarchical working of the old paradigm. This introduces a key part in the process, represented by the Sustainocrat, the highly spiritually aware, humble but influential, connecting representative of the Sustainocratic paradigm.

The Sustainocrat is the inviting connecting party
We have to understand that on the human system’s side none of the fragmented parties can take the initiatives without becoming dominant over the others. In some cases local governments try to take responsibility just to find themselves resolving the issues through expensive bureaucracy, calls for tendering and tediously long implementation processes that do not necessarily produce labor nor cohesion in their community or the desired results. If on the other hand a local government wants to become a facilitating partner (as in Sustainocracy) then who should take the connecting responsibility?

The side of practical spiritual values of the Universe is represented by a single (mostly a team of two) person referred to as “the Sustainocrat”. He (or she) is independent from the reigning politics and economic systems, representing the higher values of Sustainocracy (Human and Ecological). This person invites and unites the four areas that form the sustainocratic venture around a pre agreed global issue for local co-creation of solutions. The Sustainocrat initiats and chairs the STIR loop.

Positioning the Sustainocrat in the bleu field

Positioning the Sustainocrat in the blue field

In the blue field we find the Sustainocrat

One of the biggest challenges of the Sustainocrat is not just to involve the institutional parties but to involve the local citizens too for social innovation. Such specialized individuals need the right level of education as well as empathy with their surroundings. The condition of independence from the system also means that the Sustainocrat is result driven out of which one is rewarded, not beforehand through a salary. In the material world of money dependence there are only few people willing to take such complex responsibility with the right capacity to interact with the hierarchies of the fragmented system structures. Within the Catholic Church a priest, under the right circumstances can be positioned as Sustainocrat with relative ease.

Within the Catholic Church a similar, especially humanitarian (the ecological issues were not present yet), commitment was asked when the Roman Empire collapsed, originating in a worldwide infrastructure that is still active today. The Catholic Church has both the infrastructure with buildings (old monasteries and churches) for the creation of a spiritual network of permanently structured STIR Loops nearby large human concentrations (s.a. cities), as well as the pastoral personnel, mentality and organization that can develop into local Sustainocrats with relative ease.

It is my firm desire to use the above to make the paradigm shift a fact across the world. I can imagine all kinds of obstacles but also acknowledge the unique times we live in a, with the Christian mission of God when blessed with both awareness and tools to protect God’s work against ourselves in a peaceful and respectful way.

I sincerely hope for your acceptance of my invitation. I remain of course available for further explanation and preparation of our important venture.

Yours faithfully

Jean-Paul Close
Eindhoven (The Netherlands)
Email: jp@stadvanmorgen.com


Free download The Truly Responsible Enterprise from author Tóth Gergely

Through this space, in the blog category of “books on sustainable human progress” I start to make knowledge available to you. This is part of the universal academic environment (The STIR Academy) that I am creating as part of the development of Sustainocracy as a new way of co-creating society in a value driven democratic way. In a Sustainocracy co-creative initiatives are taken in which  education is always included free of charge, not free of responsibility. Via this means you get knowledge of a new society that you can process yourself. You now have a choice between paradigms. Knowledge helps you to develop awareness on which choice provides you with the best prospects to conduct your life in an exciting and sustainable way. The authors you meet here are also invited by me to take co-responsibility when Sustainocracy extends across the world. This have the same choices as you yet through their publications they show that they are maybe a step closer.

Tóth Gergely

I met this extremely interesting Hungarian intellectual and author, Tóth Gergely, in September 2012 during the three day Euro-SPES encounter on Spirituality and Sustainability in Visegrad (Hungary). In Hungary we find many people with deep understanding on the subject but they publish in the very difficult local Hungarian language. I am very pleased to be able to share this document in English with you. Interesting to note is perhaps that Tóth also makes his work available to you free of charge, just like me and the others in the STIR Academy. We are convinced that knowledge is not just for those who can afford it but part of humankind that should be freely available and used for sustainable human progress.

Tóth Gergely

Tóth Gergely

 Download 0 The TRE here

Here you’ll find the biography of Tóth Gergely he describes himself in 2009 on the back of this work:

Tóth Gergely is a Hungarian citizen who was born in 1970. Together with his wife they bring up their four children. By education he is an economist and holds an M.Sc. in Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in environmental management. He has studied and worked for long periods in the USA, Holland, Germany, Romania and the Baltic States. He is fluent in English and German. With other collegues Tóth Gergely established the Hungarian Association for Environmentally Aware Management (KÖVET) in 1995; he remained the executive director of this NGO till 2006 and has since then acted as secretary general. He also worked as the executive director and then vice president of the International Network for Environmental Management (INEM) between 2000 and 2005. Since 2006 he has been an assistant professor at the University of Pannonia in Keszthely, teaching economics, environmental management and global trade. Tóth Gergely holds 18 honors and awards, including the ‘Pro Scientia’ prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, awarded in 1995. He has managed and supervised
20+ larger projects, financed by the European Union and other donor agencies. He has contributed to 30 books, has published 50 articles in professional journals and over the last 12 years has held 180 lectures in Hungarian and international conferences and training workshops. Beyond his children, his hobbies are writing, triathlon and other sports.

Top 7 readings after 5 years blogging and blueprint for prosperity


Someone who wants “to change the world” has an easy job. He or she simply has to change oneself and the world has changed. All you have to do thereafter is to show people how you are by being yourself. This serves as inspiration to some and may eventually spread…..In times of internet, with the possibility of blogging, to express our ideas and show the world the changes one has made, this process gets a modern unprecedented dimension. The problem people face is the huge amount of information that becomes available and the selection one makes for one’s own inspiration. By doing so one creates his or her own world of information and personal progress.

My own progression

After 5 years of blogging I see a progression in my own activities and also in the way I share this with my surroundings. I also see a steady and even exponential progression in the support I receive from you. The amount of readers has exploded in recent months and my practical contribution to the world through Sustainocracy is becoming a serious source of inspiration for people across the world. When I look at the blog items that drew most attention I see a certain tendency too, obviously provoked by myself through social media and public presentations, but also by a growing interest by you around the different views that I present. WordPress advises, through its statistics, that I should pick up these items and continue that line of inspiration for you.

The top 7 readings and topics are:

1. Why people avoid spirituality – This post was extensively read by the academic world after my presentation during the scientific encounter on Sustainability and Spirituality in September 2012 in Hungary.

2. Alternative definition of Sustainable Development – This post is key because it is used all the time to define the ethical basis of Sustainocracy. So every time I address and audience I need to clarify this point first to create the right mindset to follow my statements. The post is there extensively used by me as hyperlink.

3. Feminizing masculine cultures in crisis – This post appeals much to female groups who see a justification in it for their own emancipation. The masculinity of current manipulation and speculation of economies is often despised and purposely negated by masculine authorities but strongly recognized by the feminine structures causing an interesting Yin-Yang also among my readers.

4. The day after economics – I found that this post was appreciated by a broad audience that saw it as an eye opener to a trusted paradigm that was falling apart without anyone really knowing what was happening. “Economics” is a word that is seen as eternally connected to human development. To project it as a finite thing with a “life before and after” got readers to open up their mind to new worldviews.

5. Kondratieff versus Close – This recent post was re-blogged various times by people who like the analytics of human and economic systems.

6. Anthropocene I and II – Many people do not realize the effect we have on our surroundings and that this even is being defined as “an era”  that will leave a  lasting print or scar on the face of the Earth just like other natural disasters of the past.

7. Why only Sustainocracy can save the human world – This post is especial popular among the growing list of supporters of Sustainocracy as a solution.

Blueprint for prosperity:

I will certainly come back to these in forthcoming posts, as the trusted old world collapses and we all need to put our shoulders under the renewal. From the above posts, and observing the line of progression I made in my own work, we can define the key ingredients for a stable society:

  • Ethics should rule (eg. Sustainocracy), not money
  • Higher human purpose should lead the democracy, not economies of growths
  • Self-sufficiency should prevail in primary requirements (food, housing, energy) to avoid dependencies
  • Co-creative craftsmanship should provide sustainable local human progress
  • Harmonious partnerships should connect self-sufficient neighboring regions for safety and sharing prosperity

We still have some work to do before this blueprint will be accomplished. What goes for societies, goes for us individually too. We are back again where I started. Change the world by changing first oneself by taking the above blueprint at heart. The rest will come automatically.

Warm regards,


Why people avoid Spirituality

From Sept 21 -23 a group of academic and entrepreneurial visionary intellectuals from 14 countries met for the annual conference of EURO-SPES. The topic was “Spirituality & Sustainability” and the gathering took place in  Visegrad (Hungary), 40 km north of Budapest. Our organizing host was Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai.

A beautiful weekend in a beautiful place full of history

Spirituality is a word that in the world of hard materialism is being neglected or despised as being soft or religious. This is a huge misconception and a true mental and practical blockage for development of true sustainable progress. Spirituality has various definitions as participating scientists correctly pointed out but the general description of the word is “the inner quest for the true meaning of our existence”. For people who live the simplified life of materialism such quest is of course a scary confrontation with their own consciousness and certainly something to be avoided. The world of the “having” is exactly opposite of the world of the “being”. Both reject each other like poles of a magnet. The transit from a “having” kind of mentality to one in search for identity (being) is usually referred to as a “crisis”. The process is one of letting go (voluntarily or involuntarily)  of material securities and trying to find comfort in the new world of inner feelings and meaning.

In such open field of emotions people start reacting in many ways, some aggressive or depressed, others become artists or find unprecedented hidden forces of leadership. During the conference we were enlightened with views in each of these fields of expertise. Academic research is showing the importance of spirituality for humankind to recover from crises and develop sustainable evolutionary progress through the renewal of true meaning. It represents a combination of rationalization of inner search for meaning and putting the growing awareness into practice in experiments around new ways of organizing ourselves, individually and as a community. This is called the pre-paradigm, a phase before, after or within crises, in which alternatives develop to a reigning paradigm that is falling apart. Such pre-paradigms are always confrontational to the one that is being disputed. A pre-paradigm uses the logic of spiritual consciousness and is usually neglected and even denied by those who are unaware, or intentional to uphold the existing paradigm out of personal or institutional interests. The old paradigm has lawful support while the new paradigm has the power of timeless meaningfulness.

It was shown that such human evolutionary patterns of obsolete but reigning paradigm, crisis, pre-paradigm development through spirituality, and the opposition between old and new paradigm, are a natural evolutionary phenomena of a self-aware species. Even the dramatic consequences of a powerful yet obsolete paradigm, that could cause death and destruction, can be seen as a universal natural disaster hitting humankind, forcing ourselves to renew our spiritual awareness and develop a new evolutionary cycle. But this natural phenomena is of course not an excuse for those who are aware of it to let it happen just like that. The force of reasoning and new paradigm development is nowadays, thanks to many modern elements of peaceful reflection, education and opposition, capable of overcoming a forthcoming crisis without the natural need for or potential threat of a mass destruction.

The Danube bend Euro-SPES encounter 2012

Academic intellectuals, artists and entrepreneurs from 14 countries meet for the paradigm shift

Sustainability was explained from an existential and practical point of view, using also nature as a point of inspirational reference. Various presentations coincided about the forthcoming mayor crash, a melt down of the world order of economics after decades of exponential growth and speculation. For the first time academic financial specialists looked at the broader picture and showed the unsustainable truth of current economic materialism. Not many presentations could pinpoint yet a solution. Some were still tempted to use economic instruments that were contrasted by others, including me, as “decades too late” and at this stage unrealistic and equally obsolete.

Solutions needed to be found in the inner world of reflection, awareness and consciousness, not the external worlds of old material securities. My own practical presentation of sustainocracy was well received. As I was one of the very first to present my case I had three more days left to get some deepening reflection about it with those who connected with the complexity of my line of thinking and my practical proof of concept that already went beyond the phase of pre-paradigm. During the questioning rounds after each presentation the power of my own model of human complexities proved its worth for my own inner guidance for reflection and interaction with the others.

The psychology of change in a paradigm shift is the true transformative challenge of humankind

The complexity of the current global situation was also beautifully shown through expressions of art around the world, presented by academic scientists, and available to create awareness in a difficult world of opposition, apathy, ignorance, commercial over-communication, fear and manipulation. The surprising beauty or challenging intellectual creativity brought forward in all kinds of artistic disciplines was mind blowing. Speakers could pinpoint  where the problems were in the unbelievable massiveness of humankind in the world today, but also that solutions were not easily at hand. Humankind was expecting solutions from the external material world while all agreed that the real solutions needed to be found in the inner world of meaning through spirituality and structural renewal of our civilization’s organization around life and evolutionary essentials.

Many presentations therefor referred to the necessary inner quest for reason and meaning, not just as an individual but also as an organization and entire civilization. Many also referred to the powerful explosive potential that spirituality has when it hits the individual and the masses. “Water must flow freely” (biologist and journalist) Janos Vargha stated when he explained his decades of battle against the system of political and economic madness when the Danube was nearly doomed for exploitation with damaging effects beyond repair. He won!

In the red circle the “monster of the Danube”, artificial remains of human institutionalized madness

And so will spirituality as this too must flow freely. The dam that was going to affect natural life, including human’s, in and around the Danube, is now a metaphor for the blocking forces of artificial institutionalized economic and political interests that stand free flow of awareness and reason in the way. Public opposition builds up powerfully and eventually breaks through the dam with force. Right now we are all like Janos in the 80’s, claiming the free flow of meaningful reason and renewal in a peaceful but demanding way, before damage is irreparable. We have time at our side, those who try to uphold their unsustainable power position do not. This personal reflection should give us trust, no matter what happens:

“Spiritual meaning will eventually win as it always has, simply because it has eternity on its side while the temporary power of the self proclaimed mighty dies with those mortals that try to uphold it in their lifetime”.

The encounter was very powerful indeed and finalized with people who found each other in meaning, reasoning and purpose. Friendships were born, alliances too, and solutions were shared that went beyond the stage of experimental pre-paradigm. During that weekend in Visegrad along the Danube bend of Hungary the cultivators of a new human future shared seeds to sow across the world. The new paradigm of sustainable human progress exists and will grow there where true spirituality meets with purpose driven leadership and entrepreneurship.

Business and Spirituality – The Pyramid paradigm

Today I received the news that my paper on the “universal working model for sustainable progress” was accepted for the “Sustainability and Spirituality” conference in Hungary on Sept 21-23 2012. It is great to gain some international exposure for a method that I  worked out in theory and also put into practice in my own living laboratory (The city of Eindhoven and the The Netherlands).

Many of the individual people involved in the related processes do it whole heartily. The institutions that I involve have still a strong dependence in the economic world and often lack sufficient backbone to show a sense of value driven responsibility. Here we encounter the true complexity of the paradigm shift from a money dependent society to a value driven one. The first is packed with institutions that have learned to uphold themselves artificially by the chain of financial dependencies, forgetting often the true original purpose of their existence. The value driven community of my model demands from the entities a commitment based on their true identity and contribution through application of competences and responsibility to the results we seek.

There are two moments when institutions become aware of their mismatch with sustainable progress and their confrontation with their lack of genuine and meaningful identity:

  1. When they fall over when their financial stakeholders withdraw their support in a crisis,
  2. When they get involved in value driven, co-creative processes and get blamed of incompetence due to internal bureaucracies, hierarchies and lack of capability to commit to true results.

We see this in most institutions, business, government and public services especially. In the second situation they “may” develop the awareness at senior executive level to transform into something that has a deeper meaning then just financial survival. In fact  they start looking for genuine meaning and purpose, which is spiritual process. To take this executive action out of the sphere of abstraction I created the practical and measurable pyramid for multi-dimensional, value driven identity development and positioning of any institution.

Value driven organization

Modern 21st century organizations are truly value driven along business and spiritual lines.

When a company or institution remains at the traditional ground level in the base of the bottom triangle, it will develop and maintain an old fashioned a deteriorating strategy of financial dependencies. When it starts rising  into the pyramid it will include much more value driven commitments that keep the organization alive and connected to a daily reality. The company become more sustainable if it finds a meaningful link with the surroundings.

To develop a true multidimensional value driven image (i.e. moving up the pyramid) represents a complex transformative process that affects the entire structure of the organization and all people related to it, internally and externally in the surroundings. As the value driven processes reposition the organization in society it will encounter a huge amount of organizations that are trying to do the same. The shake out is intense, driving organization to the kernel of their existence with a challenge to excel in their commitment to values rather than financial growth. Money becomes no issue anymore nor profitability. Profit becomes much more relative to results than just financial benefits.

From a multidisciplinary co-creation perspective only such companies will survive and link with value driven ventures in a sustainable way. It are not the products that make the difference but the set of values the company represents. Since these values represent the multiple inner meaning providing purpose to the commitment there will no customer relationships anymore but partnerships with other competence and responsibility driven institutions compatible with one’s own ideas.

Spirituality involves the profound understanding of a cosmic reality (matter, energy, purpose, finite limitations and abundance, her and now, eternity) and an evolutionary reality (dependence and independence, leadership, adaptability, sustainable progress). Business based on profound spiritual meaning is called multidimensional entrepreneurship. The difference can be summarized as follows:

By Jean-Paul Close

The difference between traditional and multidimensional entrepreneurship is business spirituality